Political and gender considerations that hinder female scholars’ ability to express their opinions are one of the main problems the network is trying to solve, said Abdelhameed, who is a research fellow at Australia’s Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation.
“We are specialised academics, fluent in more than one language, and not less than the men who appear on screens to discuss Iraq’s issues at research conferences,” she added.
Before moving to Australia in 2011, Abdelhameed earned a master’s degree in contemporary American drama at the University of Baghdad. She was a faculty member at the university’s College of Languages when she found herself forced to seek asylum abroad after her family received threats.
While in exile, Abdelhameed obtained a doctorate at La Trobe University, in Melbourne, with a Ph.D. thesis comparing how war stories are presented onstage in Iraq and Australia. She has also worked as a researcher specialising in Iraqi feminist studies at Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
Workshops in Iraq and Abroad
The new network has 22 members. They plan to hold workshops abroad and inside Iraq to help young researchers communicate with Western universities and research centres and translate their published Arabic works about Iraq into other languages.
Abdelhameed said the network does not receive material assistance from any party, but hopes to obtain aid from international organisations so long as it remains unpoliticised.